image: Transporting the wounded Arthur by carriage, Spieghel Historiael (The Hague, KB, KA 20, fol. 163v), c. 1325-1335
The medieval carriage was typically a four-wheeled wagon type, with a rounded top (‘tilt’) similar in appearance to the Conestoga Wagon familiar from the USA. Sharing the traditional form of wheels and undercarriage known since the Bronze Age, it very likely also employed the pivoting fore-axle in continuity from the ancient world. Suspension (on chains) is recorded in visual images and written accounts from the 14th century (‘chars branlant’ or rocking carriages), and was in widespread use by the 15th century. Carriages were largely used by royalty, aristocrats (and especially by women), and could be elaborately decorated and gilded. These carriages were on four wheels often and were pulled by two to four horses depending on how they were decorated (elaborate decoration with gold lining made the carriage heavier). Wood and iron were the primary requirements needed to build a carriage and carriages that were used by non-royalty were covered by plain leather.